Julia recently moved into a new apartment with her three children – two teenagers and a four-year-old. She was experiencing domestic violence and needed to make a move. “I’m glad I got out of that because now I can focus on myself and focus on my children,” she said.
Having struggled in the past, Julia’s top priority is to make sure her kids make better choices than she did. At 16, she dropped out of high school and was pregnant at 19. Before being referred to ECS, she was put out by her mother and grandmother and had no choice but to stay in emergency shelters with her kids. For doing so, Julia says she felt judged.
“[They] always try to bring me down,” she said. They say things like, “‘oh, you’re never going to be nothing.’” Julia is proving them all wrong. She recently enrolled in a program at Drexel University to receive her high school diploma while earning college credits at the Community College of Philadelphia. Already working weekends as a certified nursing assistant, Julia’s goal is to become a registered nurse.
ECS is there for her each step of the way to provide personalized support and life skills workshops, like household budgeting, which help families like Julia’s successfully live independently. “They’re just here to help you be self-sufficient. And I just like to make [my case manager] proud,” Julia said. “That’s one person I know for sure I can call and she’ll have my back and support [me].”
At home, Julia continues to tell her kids to learn from her mistakes and to focus on their studies. “We’ll all be in school at the same time, helping each other,” she said. “I have to show them the example that Mom can do it, too.”
Years from now, Julia plans to be working full-time and paying her good fortune forward. “Once I get on my feet, I would want to come back here and help in any way, because I like to help people. I thank God every day that this program picked me and my children because they didn’t have to. Where would I be if I didn’t come here? … There’s no looking back for me now. It’s exciting.”